What do librarians do in the summer?

[Untitled] (10)I wish I could think of a witty punchline, but I can’t so I’m going to share some highlights of the ARCLIB, Architecture Librarians Conference which I attended, recently, at De Montfort University in Leicester. The conference began with an Infographics Workshop, led by Julia Reeve from DMU’s Centre for Enhancing Learning Through Technology (CELT). Give me some scissors, glue and felt tips pens and I’m happy; creativity flows when I doodle and move things around on a page. You can see my efforts on summarising the Library’s Discovery Service in the graphic [click to enlarge]. In the evening, delegates were welcomed to Leicester’s premier visitor attraction, the King Richard III Visitor Centre, for a drinks reception, talk on the Cousins War (a complex period of history) and a tour of the centre including seeing the building with the glass floor over the famous carpark grave site.

The second day of the conference we were introduced to the Universities of Leicester, by Arthur Lyons, Honorary Research Fellow at DMU. Arthur introduced us to some renowned architects and buildings of Leicester’s two universities, including the famous Engineering Building at Leicester University, designed by James Stirling (of the now famous architectural prize) and James Gowan with engineer Frank Newby. Then it was my turn to present a paper on introducing Credo Courseware to students at UoP. Some of you may have noticed some little learning objects embedded into Moodle near the library presentation – well those are what I’m talking about. I looked at data on how you were using them – it was quite a revelation that you were accessing them before coming to the library lecture and using them for revision purposes much later on in the year.  Of course I had to throw in a bit of kinaesthetic learning too – a game of cats cradle to act as metaphor for the library lecture. It seemed to go down well and I’ve got some great ideas from participants on how to improve it for next year. It was my turn to write up the next presentation for the ARCLIB blog, Mediated Spaces by James Brown, so I’ll share that another time. A number of short presentations from ARCLIB members gave some food for thought including using lecture capture effectively, how we can reflect diversity in library collections, working with student interns to promote library services and a ‘mobile library’ initiaitve bringing books to the studio for students to borrow.

Later in the day we went on a visit to another of Leicester’s premier attractions, the National Space Centre, for an architectural tour which included seeing how all of the air-conditioning worked and the computer architecture to keep the audience engrossed with edutainment, if that’s the right word. The Planetarium was a big hit with many conference delgates but I had to keep shutting my eyes! I did learn about the history of the universe in a way that school never managed to get the concept across to me.

Friday morning, it was back to the classroom for more presentations; a truly enlightening Revinventing the Library Welcome Campaign from Elaine Cooke at Manchester Met. Side-lined by the University’s new approach to induction, she led a project to put the library back at the heart of induction, not just with dull presentations but by attracting students to the library throughout the Welcome Festival with origami, badge-making, colouring-in activities and lots of freebies, including golden tickets to exchange for coffee and cake (they must have seen what we do throughout the year at UoP!) Selfie-frames were a big hit and videos capturing thoughts of existing students inspired those just joining to love their library. In collaboration with the public library, Elaine explained how they gave a way a free library book – a chapter was given on Moodle prior to arrival and they could collect the whole book from the Uni Library. The public library facilitated reading groups at the Uni Library and allowed it to lend some of its fiction stock too.  This carried on throughout the year, with books changed over every two months. Students had taken the first important step to come inside the library and find out what was on offer. They found fun, enthusiastic and relaxed library staff as well as new friends.

The conference closed with a walking tour of Leicester; it was nice to see somewhere I once lived and worked looking revitalised and an inviting place to study – even though it isn’t by the seaside!

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